Diary of an Adventure

Yokohama Aventures

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Ice Sculpture – TICAD V Reception

Green, calm, gentle. Refreshing after the demands of being in Tokyo. Joggers, ice cream barrows and artists, sitting comfortably in the gardens along the harbour. This part of the city is stunning, with wide green avenues, elevated walkways, a mixture between modern and historic architecture, small interesting alleys, and pockets of secluded areas that are pedestrian friendly and full of boutique shops.

Hours lost watching the seemingly random movement of ships, harried by Border Collie like tugs. Excellent sushi while sitting at our incredible picture window at the New Grand Hotel (where Gen. McCarthur stayed after the war) that had views out across Yokohama Bay.

I did find out why I have had such a painful big toe, after dropping my suitcase onto it – again – in getting down the stairs from the pedestrian overpass. Our legs are battered after a week of walking, muscles unaccustomed to the dozens of stairs faced each day and the hard surface of nature, subdued by paving.

There was an amazing ice sculpture of the Yokohama skyline at the opening reception for the conference. The battery of cameras focused at the huddles of men who surrounded the Heads of State. Speeches, mercifully short; great food and excellent wine helped revive us after another long jet-lagged day. Fukushima chicken served to reinforce the claim that there is no lingering effects of the radiation leak following the Tsunami meltdown.

Needing to get a page printed, scanned and emailed proved to be a step too far. Trying to understand the Japanese, unworkable; communicating with the shop assistant, impossible. Terry patiently steering my frustration to the safety of Starbucks.

China Town, with its streets of food and tacky souvenirs. Lively, busy and colourful. Didn’t do the dumplings, as they were too large to manage as street food. Chiba took us to one of the places where we had a varied meal, including jelly fish, duck skin and prawns.

At the Sankeien gardens, purple irises are in full colour, hounded by a host of cameras, mine included. While the gardens are known for their collection of historic buildings, its the irises that grab attention. We were there for the week during which they open the gardens at night for the fire flies. In a sheltered gully, like something out of a children’s story book, the glowing dots held us mesmerized.

A collection of artwork from the Sankei era, amongst which is a stunning purple iris on a folded gold screen. The similarity between it and the approach taken by Monet in his painting of purple irises is striking, but hardly surprising given that Japan was the largest market for his work. The paintings have a delicacy about them that seem to add strength to the bold colour of the iris, rather than detract from it. The use of charcoal in some of the work was fascinating. Again with a lightness of touch that mine are missing.

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